Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorkell Skallason (ÞSkall)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

Valþjófsflokkr (Valfl) - 2

Skj info: Þórkell Skallason, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 414, BI, 383-4).

Skj poems:

Nothing is known about Þorkell (ÞSkall) except that he was a retainer of Earl Waltheof (Valþjófr) of Northumbria and that he composed a flokkr in Waltheof’s honour after his death (1076). According to Fsk (ÍF 29, 294), Þorkell was the son of one Þórðr skalli ‘Skull’, but we do not know whether he was from Iceland or from Norway (Skj gives his ethnicity as Icel.). No other poetry is attributed to Þorkell, and he is not listed in Skáldatal.

Valþjófsflokkr — ÞSkall ValflII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Þorkell Skallason, Valþjófsflokkr’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 382-4.

 1   2 

Skj: Þórkell Skallason: Valþjófsflokkr, o. 1070 (AI, 414, BI, 383-4)

SkP info: II, 383-4

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — ÞSkall Valfl 2II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Þorkell Skallason, Valþjófsflokkr 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 383-4.

Víst hefr Valþjóf hraustan
Viljalmr, sás rauð malma,
hinn, es haf skar sunnan
hélt, í tryggð of véltan.
Satts, at síð mun létta,
snarr en minn vas harri,
— deyrat mildingr mærri —
manndráp á Englandi.

Viljalmr, sás rauð malma, hinn, es skar hélt haf sunnan, hefr víst of véltan hraustan Valþjóf í tryggð. Satts, at manndráp mun síð létta á Englandi, en harri minn vas snarr; mærri mildingr deyrat.

William, who reddened weapons, the one who cut the rime-flecked sea from the south, has indeed betrayed the bold Waltheof under safe conduct. It is true that killings will be slow to cease in England, but my lord was brave; a more splendid munificent prince will not die.

Mss: (585r-v), F(53vb), E(28v), J2ˣ(299r-v) (Hkr); H(77r-v), Hr(54vb) (H-Hr); NRA51(1r), FskAˣ(317) (Fsk, ll. 1-4)

Readings: [1] Víst: Vistir Hr;    ‑þjóf: ‘‑diof’ FskAˣ    [2] ‑jalmr: ‑hjalmr F, E, J2ˣ, H, Hr, ‘iamr’ NRA51;    malma: so F, E, J2ˣ, H, NRA51, FskAˣ, hjalma Kˣ, Hr    [4] of: ok Hr    [5] Satts (‘satt er’): ‘sottr en’ Hr;    mun: munu E, J2ˣ;    létta: hætta Hr    [6] en minn vas harri (‘enn minn var harri’): ‘elþrimo’ F    [7] deyrat: deyr eigi Kˣ, F, E, J2ˣ, deyr ei H, Hr;    mærri: meiri E, J2ˣ, H, Hr

Editions: Skj: Þórkell Skallason, Valþjófsflokkr 2: AI, 414, BI, 384, Skald I, 191; ÍF 28, 196 (HSig ch. 97), F 1871, 251, E 1916, 100; Fms 6, 426-7 (HSig ch. 122);  ÍF 29, 295 (ch. 76).

Context: After the incident described in st. 1 above, William, who had been installed on the Engl. throne, summoned Waltheof and promised him safe-conduct. When Waltheof arrived, he was captured by William’s men on the moor north of the unidentified Kastalabryggja, put in chains and then decapitated (so Hkr and H-Hr). According to Fsk (which has a fuller prose account), Waltheof was reconciled with William and the earldom of Northumbria was restored to him. He then left William’s court, but William sent men after him, and they executed him after capturing him on an unnamed moor.

Notes: [All]: Waltheof participated in yet another uprising against William (see st. 1 Notes to [All] above), and he was decapitated in Winchester on 31 May 1076 (see Scott 1952, 202-8). — [2] sás rauð malma ‘who reddened weapons’: Skj B takes this rel. cl. to refer to Waltheof, but that is unlikely because sás is m. nom. sg. and Valþjóf (l. 1) is m. acc. sg. (we would expect the demonstrative to take the case of the antecedent). — [2] malma ‘weapons’: The ms. witnesses show that hjalma ‘helmets’ is an independent innovation in and Hr. — [4] í tryggð ‘under safe-conduct’: After having joined the second conspiracy against William, Waltheof repented and threw himself on William’s mercy. William had first been inclined to show leniency, but after he returned to England, he captured Waltheof and threw him in prison (see Scott 1952, 205-6). — [5, 8] satts, at manndráp mun síð létta á Englandi ‘it is true that killings will be slow to cease in England’: This prediction came true. For subsequent insurrections against William as well as attacks on England by Malcolm of Scotland, see Douglas 1964, 240-4. — [6] en harri minn vas snarr ‘but my lord was brave’: So Skj B, Skald. ÍF 28 emends to an harri minn vas snarr and construes deyrat mærri mildingr an snarr harri minn vas translated as ekki deyr ágætari konungur en hinn vaski dróttinn minn var ‘a more splendid king will not die than my brave lord was’ (ll. 6-7). Aside from an unnecessary normalisation (en ‘but’ replaced by an ‘than’), this reading violates the w. o. in an independent cl. (the finite verb deyrat ‘will not die’ (l. 7) then occurs in syntactic position 3). — [7] mærri ‘a more splendid’: The variant meiri ‘a greater’ (so E, J2ˣ, H, Hr) is also possible, but appears to be an innovation (lectio facilior) of the Hkr y-branch. — [8] á Englandi ‘in England’: Could also go with the cl. in l. 7 (‘a more splendid munificent man will never die in England’), but that would detract from the force of that cl.

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